13 July 2022

Dozens dead and hurt in Haiti’s capital in gang clashes

13 July 2022

Dozens of people have died in four days of gang battles in a violent neighbourhood of Haiti’s capital, authorities said.

It comes as a wave of increasing violence sweeps the country.

Jean Hislain Frederick, deputy mayor in the Cite Soleil district of Port-au-Prince, said the fighting erupted on Friday in a clash between members of two rival gangs, with at least 50 people killed and more than 50 wounded.

The violence began a day after the first anniversary of the assassination of president Jovenel Moise.

Since Mr Moise was killed, violence has soared in Haiti as gangs battle over territory, and the government has struggled to crack down.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders said thousands of people were trapped in Cite Soleil without drinking water, food and medical care.

Armed forces secure the area of state offices of Port-au-Prince (Odelyn Joseph/AP) (AP)

The organisation called on other humanitarian groups to help and urged the gangs “to spare civilians”.

In a press release, it said three of its members were treating the wounded in an area of Cite Soleil called Brooklyn.

“Along the only road into Brooklyn, we have encountered corpses that are decomposing or being burned,” Mumuza Muhindo, Doctors Without Borders’ head of mission in Haiti said in the statement.

“They could be people killed during the clashes or people trying to leave who were shot — it is a real battlefield. It is not possible to estimate how many people have been killed.”

Local officials said the fighting involved the rival gangs known as G9 and G-Pep.

The G9 is a gang coalition also known as G9 Family and Allies, led by a former police officer, Jimmy Cherizier.

Known as Barbecue, Cherizier has been linked in the past to massacres, and his coalition is believed to have allied with Mr Moise’s right-wing party.

After the president was killed, he called the crime “cowardly and villainous”.

A Radio TV Caraïbe station office stands empty in Port-au-Prince after saying it would stop broadcasting for one week to protest widespread violence in the capital (Odelyn Joseph/AP) (AP)

G-Pep is a gang that arose in Cite Soleil, although it is allied with other armed groups from around Haiti’s capital.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Tuesday that hunger is set to rise in Haiti, which is seeing 26% inflation, high costs of food and fuel, and deteriorating security — with insecurity in and around Port-au-Prince drastically worsening since early May.

The agency’s country director, Jean-Martin Bauer, told UN correspondents in a video news conference that 1.3 million Haitians in the north-west and parts of the south “are one step away from famine”.

Because the criminal groups block roads and attack trucks carrying humanitarian aid, the WFP is using ferries and aircraft to deliver desperately needed food, he said.

Mr Bauer said the agency needs £33 million for its operations in Haiti for the next six months, and he urged donors not to let the situation in the country “go from bad to worse”.

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